Consider this surgical robotics ad for Venti Medical Center a cautionary tale; it goes to the extreme to demonstrate the banality of many hospital ad campaigns promoting leading edge technology. When I see ads touting new technology I always try to imagine the consumer looking at the ad with a big thought bubble over her head asking “So What?” I often clump these ads together with those promoting national rankings. If we’re going to talk about technology and rankings, we need to make it relevant (more about the consumer and less about us). Otherwise, it is just more narcissistic spewing and self-absorption. If we want to engage consumers, we need to find ways to talk about things they care about. And that starts with listening to them and caring about what they have to say. For many healthcare organizations, it will involve a major cultural shift.

3988 Venti ad


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We had a terrific first day of sessions and networking events at the 2015 Fall Conference of the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society (CHPRMS). However, the event got off to a slower than usual start from a social media perspective. We only had 13 people actively Tweeting, using the official conference hashtag; a total of 51 Tweets; for 133,622 potential impressions. Below are some of the analytics from Symplur:

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If you look at people Tweeting about CHPRMS without using the official hashtag, the number of participants grows slightly. Below are Twitter analytics from Tweetreach. They show 16 people Tweeting. However, the difference in impressions (by adding in these Tweets) is negligible – adding another 30k overall.

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(This is a brief excerpt from an article I wrote that appeared in the November issue of eHealthcare Strategy & Trends. There’s a link below to access the entire article. The piece is titled “Community Building vs. Narcissism in Healthcare Marketing.” My thanks to Jane Weber Brubaker for her editing prowess!)

Marketing “With” Consumers, Rather Than “At” Consumer

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 1.43.49 PMConsumers today expect to be participants in marketing. They engage in the experience. They follow, like, tweet, share, pin, snap, comment and post. Consumers take in information on multiple devices and platforms, at the time and place of their choosing. Their attention is fragmented and they are driven to seek out the information they desire – on their terms. So how do you get them to stop for a moment and engage with your information?

Communities Based on Shared Interests
You create community. A fundamental role of the contemporary healthcare marketer is to create safe environments where consumers and patients can have health conversations, access quality health information, meet our clinicians, and engage with others who are facing similar health challenges.

As human beings we are naturally drawn to others who share our interests. Think
about that initial conversation when you meet someone for the first time. Often that conversation is a search for common ground. Shared interests, once they’ve
been identified, are the foundation for a relationship.

Building Blocks of Community
Most of us already know how to build community. There are basic principles
that we should adhere to whether we’re creating community via a Facebook page,
Twitter feed or any other platform. (continued…)

(To read the rest of this article, published in the November issue of eHealthcare Strategy & Trends, go to http://ehealthcarestrategy.com/lp-community-building-vs-narcissism-healthcare-marketing-4220/

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.09.58 AMLater this week, healthcare marketers, communicators and graphic design professionals will gather in Asheville, NC for the Fall Conference of the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society (CHPRMS). This is one of my favorite conferences of the year, in part because it takes place at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville (every other year); primarily because the agenda for the conference is always so strong and I enjoy reconnecting with colleagues from the Carolinas.

Several of the speakers for this year’s event are people I know well and hold in high regard. That begins with Julie Henry of the NC Hospital Association. She is speaking with Rozalynn Goodwin of the SC Hospital Association. Together, they will address the use of communications to advance health policy. It should be a great presentation.

Also presenting will be my friend David Marlowe of Strategic Marketing Concepts. David’s topic is timely – pricing strategy in healthcare. I’m working on a pricing transparency project right now and can’t wait to gather insights from David’s presentation.

Susan Dubuque of Neathawk Dubuque & Packett, another marketer I hold in high regard, will be delivering a keynote on Thursday about  using social marketing to drive behavioral change. This should be a terrific session.

Those presentations and presenters are just the tip of the iceberg. This will be a great conference and I hope to see you there! For more information and to review the conference agenda, go to http://chprms.com/news-events/fall-conference/agenda/.

And if you’re not already excited, Asheville is home to some spectacular breweries and brew pubs! I plan to visit a couple while I’m in the area (market research).

This is a very cool story that I stumbled upon on Boston.com. Special effects company Fractured FX is now working with Boston Children’s simulator program, SIMPeds, to create a new generation of lifelike mannequins/simulators. (Fractured FX won an Emmy this fall for American Horror Story: Freak Show.)
These mannequins, used in training, are not the hard-plastic dolls of old. Physicians using this new breed of simulator will no longer have to cut through hard plastic mannequins with tubes for blood vessels (the old technology). Instead, they’ll puncture a soft layer of realistic baby skin, dissect through subcutaneous fat and spread muscles that look and feel like the real thing. This is really an amazing development. Here’s a link to the story found on Boston Children’s Hospital’s Science and Clinical Innovation Blog. Check out the video below.

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My most recent article was published in the November issue of eHealthcare Strategy & Trends, a publication of Plain English Health Care. I wrote about the narcissism found in most healthcare marketing. In healthcare, we talk about ourselves – incessantly. We’re #1. We’ve got cutting edge technology. We’ve got top doctors. We made the list. But the inward focus within our marketing communications goes beyond that.

Even when we use social media platforms, we use them to push content out – not to listen or to have conversations. That’s not the way to use these platforms.

In the end, narcissists are boring. That’s enough of a reason to get us to change our ways. Let’s put the patient at the center of the conversation. And let’s market with consumers, rather than at them.

Check out my article on Narcissism in Healthcare Marketing. I want to give a special shout out to Jane Weber Brubaker who edited this article. It is vastly improved thanks to her contributions.

People considering enrolling in a comprehensive weight loss program, one that includes bariatric surgery, typically do a lot of research online. The internet gives them a private channel for gathering information about their various options and the types of programs that are being offered. For this audience, video is a powerful tool. Through video they can meet an institution’s physicians and patients online, getting a good feel for the character of the weight loss program.

Here are a couple of videos that my firm produced for the weight loss program at Lawrence General Hospital in Massachusetts. Patient stories, like the one I’m sharing here from Damarys Morales, can help prospective patients make a real connection with the program. Damarys’ story in video is far more authentic and compelling than any brochure or narrative on a website.



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